Tuesday, October 20, 2009

40 Days of Gratitude

We are already counting down. Every year is a new challenge to make Thanksgiving meaningful. I once borrowed an idea from my sister and did a Thanksgiving Tree (think twigs in a vase and dried leaves--with thankful sayings written on them--strung and hanging on the branches.) I have also made leaf cut-outs on colorful paper--with thankful sayings on them--and taped them to the window. When the boys were preschool age, we made paper turkeys with colors feathers where we wrote, of course, the things we were thankful for. All fun and a deliberate attempt to get us to think about our blessings.

This past weekend, I was contemplating the upcoming holiday and realized we were exactly 40 days away from the Thanksgiving holiday. So I quickly made up some pages to print out and put them in some journals. I got the family involved and we prepared our construction paper covers, which we decorated with markers and glitter pens. The pages have a fill-in-the-blank-style entries for each day from October 18-November 26: "I am thankful for..." with lines to fill in and with space to draw a picture. I am excited to see what we all decide to write. I hope this might shake up our naturally complaining hearts to see the goodness all around us in a fresh way.

What Am I Looking For?

If we look for flaws in others, we will find them. If we look for evidence of grace, we will find that, too. The one gives us a higher view of ourselves. The other gives us a higher view of our God. It's our choice.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Potato Chip Factory

With a willing friend, the boys and I toured Herr's Foods, Inc. in Nottingham, PA today. Among other snack foods, Herr's makes potato chips. We are looking at "processes" this fall--how products get from concept to you. (For some cool videos on the subject, see http://manufacturing.stanford.edu/hetm.html). I expected an educational tour of the factory to explain the manufacturing process and maybe get a sample of their product at the end. We got both. In fact, I was really impressed with how they use all the by-products of potato making, including selling starch to a paper factory, feeding scraps to local Angus cattle, and heating the building/factory with the heat from the cooling potato chips!

Most of all, I was pleasantly surprised by the human story that was clearly the undercurrent of this thriving business. Jim and Mim Herr (isn't that great? rhyming names!) founded the company 1946 with a few kettles, a potato slicer and peeler, and a delivery truck. Now it is a company led by all of their 5 children, with 1400 employees, 500 sales routes and many, many snack products. The Herrs have spent their lifetime building on good business practices, overcoming obstacles (such as a devastating factory fire in 1951) and being faithful to live by common sense and wisdom. At the end of the tour, a free little booklet of a paraphrase of the book of Proverbs from Jim Herr is available. In the front cover he states that he has tried to live according to these Biblical principles, in dependence on the Holy Spirit and the grace of Christ.

I got way more than asked for on this field trip. These are the days that make homeschooling especially sweet. Although I would not want my name to rhyme with my husband's (if you know us, you would understand!), I hope, like the Herrs, we can build on a sure foundation and bless others with our lives. I hope my sons are inspired by the kind of perseverance, skill, and business practice we saw today.

I think I'll eat more potato chips.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


The quotable C.S. Lewis said, "With the possible exception of the equator, everything has a beginning." So this begins my blog, conceivably scratched into cyberspace for infinity. You will likely find me writing on a variety of subjects which are both close to my heart and fresh in the experience of this 30-something, homeschooling mother: my faith, prayer, relationships, parenting, marriage, my sons, education, culture and an occasional political opinion. The best way to start is by starting, so let's go.